"There's one secret place...
it is beautiful and peaceful,
where gentle water flows..."
- Oksana Rus
Traditionally, during the entire month of August, Paris is a virtual ghost town. Restaurants, bakers, grocers, cafes, boutiques, etc, - their doors and windows are shuttered. Pourquoi? Because Paris is fermé pour les vacancies (closed for vacation). Sadly, Americans do not follow this most wonderful tradition but we do love our summer vacations. And, in any case, long ago I decided to create my own version of la tradition de vacancies Parisienne...
Me and my sister - Rory
Saint Paul de Vence, Nice (1983?)
Provence and Cote d'Azur (also known as The Gold Coast) Has long been a favorite Parisian August-vacation destination. In my early teens I spent a month in Cote d'Azur with my mother and sister: Forte di Marmi, Cannes, Nice, Monaco. Then another 2 weeks sailing the Mediterranean: Elba, Corsica, Capri. Everything was so breathtakingly gorgeous - the colors, sights, sounds, and tastes. Those six weeks fundamentally changed me, have stayed with me, always will. A few years later, in my tiny slice of the world, I discovered another Gold Coast, along the northern shore of Lake Michigan. Six villages with vast acres of abundant farm land on one side and five miles of pristine mostly private beach on the other...
6 sleepy villages of antiquing; a handful of hotels, inns and Bed & Breakfasts; galleries of classical, modern and avant guard art, furniture and fashion; wineries and breweries; there are two grocery stores (one fancy, the other simple - 15 minutes in either direction); an excellent butcher, an excellent fish monger; and restaurants that run the gamut (mom and pop, neighborhood beach dives, haute cuisine - sometimes a combination of the the three ;-}
Our 'Corniche,' connecting the 6 towns, is the Red Arrow Highway. Both sides of this 4 lane road are sparsely scattered with roadside farm stands that sell the wildflowers that grow on their properties and delicious fruits and vegetables with the dirt still clinging to them.
While my family and I love the sleepy villages, restaurants, galleries and art - we rarely indulge in them. We come to the Gold Coast to get away from it all, enjoy the beach, water and sun. But, most importantly,
we come to enjoy each other - la perfection.
No shoes, no shirt, wet sandy feet - welcome and preferred.
There's a little fisherman's cottage, set on the beach.
It's simple: white walls, hardwood floors, weathered rattan furniture with plush shabby chic linen cushions and windows everywhere - with views of the beach, water and sky on three sides. Because we're deep in the woods and at the edge of Lake Michigan, internet and cell phone reception are spotty at best and there's one television - we almost never watch it, but there is a small transistor radio always playing in the main room.
Every morning (bright and early),
I pack a bit of fruit and a bottle of water,
pour two mugs of coffee, then Mr. G., Coco and I
take a 4 mile walk on our private beach.
As for the rest of our days...
Lunch on the beach, bien sur.
Nowhere we have to be. Nothing we have to do.
Just us in our tiny slice of heaven.
"It is fate that I'm here." - E.M. Forster, A Room with a View
August is the month to leave the hustle and bustle of everyday life - shunt it a physical and emotional world away - and enjoy family, friends, rest and relaxation, good food and wine, all while enjoying the bright warm sun, cool water, sweet breezes and long lazy days of summer.
Every night, two hours before sunset, I prepare a feast - only using the local delicious fruits, veggies, meats, and seafoods. Then we pack a cooler and basket, and head back to the beach to witness the glorious sunset...
a sun worshipers nirvana.
Beach bonfire and S'Mores
"Sunsets are so beautiful that they almost seem
as if we're looking through the gates of heaven."
- John Lubbock
Back to life. Back to reality. We just finished the last of the fruits and veggies we brought home. Mr. G is back in the thick of work. I began teaching a class this week (my second class begins in 4 weeks). Rory has begun his first week of high school, Sage - the 8th grade, Never - the 5th --- and ma mere Dorothy overseeing it/us all. The sun sets much earlier, the night winds are cooler (the promise of fall soon to become a reality). But we're all still beach-water-wind-sun kissed; Mr. G, Coco and I are still taking our long walks (though, sadly not on our beach); and the top of my convertible is still down. Our long lazy days of summer are behind us but, deep into the winter, we will remember, reminisce, smile, talk and laugh about our funky State's side Gold Coast, our little slice of heaven. And it will be enough until we return. Jusqu'à l'été prochain, mon amour!
Vivre! Rire! Aimer!